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Budget, Education & City Services

Immediate funding of programs that can be implemented on a short timeline to support individuals suffering serious mental illness (“SMI”) in mid and lower Manhattan

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, May 11, 2023, the following resolution passed with a vote of 29 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The Budget, Education and City Services Committee of Community Board Five (CB5) held a Joint Meeting with Community Boards Two and Four along with members from Boards One, Three and Six with panelists Dr. Ellen Tabor, Associate Medical Director, Institute for Community Living (ICL) Dr. Van Yu, Chief Medical Officer at Jamian Health/Center for Community Services (CUCS) Brianna Thompson DNP, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Intensive Mobile Treatment Team, Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) Abigail Boynton LMSW, Assistant Team Lead, Intensive Mobile Treatment Team, CASES and attended by elected officials Hon. Erik Bottcher, New York City Council District 3, Hon. Carlina Rivera, New York City Council District 2,Hon. Brad Hoylman-Sigel, New York State Senate District 47, Hon. Tony Simone, New York State Assembly District 75 and Hon. Linda Rosenthal, New York State Assembly District 67; and

WHEREAS, Since New York began to empty state psychiatric hospitals in light of inhumane conditions and a reaffirmation of patients’ rights, the City and State’s public health systems have lacked a comprehensive network of services to treat individuals living with serious mental illness SMI; and

WHEREAS, Serving individuals with SMI has become a heightened priority for the state and the city, Gov. Kathy Hochul has pledged $1 billion to address behavioral health needs in New York State and Mayor Eric Adams’s 2023 plan “Care, Community, Action: A Mental Health Plan for New York City” describes serious mental illness (SMI) as an urgent concern for the city, and the New York City Council has also made it a priority for FY24; and

WHEREAS, Supportive housing is widely recognized as the most comprehensive tool to address SMI and is in insufficient supply; and

WHEREAS, The Governor and the Mayor have committed to increase the supply of supportive housing in NYC which will require significant capital investment and political commitment over the years required for building it; and 

WHEREAS, The Governor and the Mayor have also committed to expand other infrastructure, such as clubhouses and hospital beds, which are additional comprehensive approaches that will require time to reach full operation; and 

WHEREAS, Given the time required for these and other initiatives there is a pressing need for interventions that can be implemented on a shorter timeline of one-to-three-years that require a lower level of public investment and that can be expanded or retracted in response to the City’s needs; and  

WHEREAS, We see a dire need for these programs to operate in the area below 59th Street in Manhattan; and

WHEREAS,  Manhattan’s Central Business District, as well its downtown neighborhoods, include parks, transit stations, and busy streets frequented by apparently homeless individuals, many of whom appear to suffer from SMI that has gone untreated, and

WHEREAS, Programs deemed successful at treating SMI in the field include New York State Assertive Community Treatment (“ACT”) and New York City Intensive Mobile Treatment (“IMT”); and

WHEREAS, Both ACT and IMT teams are in insufficient supply; and

WHEREAS, The waitlist to be assigned to an ACT team is estimated at 800 people and the waitlist for an IMT team is estimated at 300 people; and

WHEREAS, The efficacy of housing unstable persons with SMI who participate with ACT and IMT Teams is directly linked to private stabilization beds (including hotel room, safe haven and other respite beds) in addition to supportive housing; and  

WHEREAS, High demand for behavioral health professionals combined with low salaries budgeted for ACT and IMT teams jeopardizes the ability of the State and the City to sufficiently staff these programs to expand their number as needed and as promised; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recognizes and stresses that safe housing is the most critical stabilizing factor for individuals with serious mental illness (“SMI”) and therefore commends the Governor of New York and the Mayor of New York City for committing to expand the number of supportive housing units and hospital beds for individuals living with SMI, and commends the New York City Council for its attention to SMI; and be it further 

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges the city to increase the number of hotel rooms and respite beds available on a short timeline while the permanent housing that has been promised is brought online; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges the continued expansion of ACT and IMT until the long waiting lists for these services have been eliminated; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges NYS and NYC to offer competitive salaries and to consider regulatory changes that would better leverage the existing supply of mental health professionals to address critical staffing shortages; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create a clearer process, for consumers and providers alike to access the network of services available to those suffering SMI; and be it further 

RESOLVED, Community Board Five encourages the expansion of B-HEARD into Manhattan below 59th Street, with ongoing evaluation of its successful response to 911-routed calls, rapid dispatch, and crisis de-escalation; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five encourages the adoption of low-budget interventions that would contribute to the well-being of unsheltered homeless individuals, such as shower vans, distribution of hygiene kits, opportunities for shaving and haircuts and access to laundry facilities. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this matter.

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